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KARACHI: Overregulation and low productivity are preventing Pakistan from reaching its potential for GDP growth, exports and foreign investment.

These views were expressed at an event “Reforms for a Brighter Future: Time to Decide” hosted by the World Bank & Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) at a local hotel here.

The event, “Reforms for a Brighter Future: Time to Decide,” highlighted how heavy government regulation and un-productivity are hampering Pakistan from achieving 7-8% GDP growth and realizing $88 billion in exports and $2.8 billion in foreign direct investment.

Pakistan’s economy grows 2.13% in 1st quarter of FY24: NAC

The seminar brought together top World Bank officials and Pakistani policy experts seeking to inform election-year economic dialogue. Speakers stressed the need to boost private investment and exports through major reforms.

The speakers were Martin Raiser, Regional Vice President for South Asia, Najy Benhassine, country director, World Bank (WB), WB, Ghazala Mansuri, lead economist, WB, Shagufta Shabbar, Research Fellow IBA and Tobias Haque, Senior economist WB.

They estimated that with human capital improvements and policy changes, Pakistan’s per capita GDP growth could nearly double over the next 25 years. However, confronting entrenched interests and short-term pains will be necessary for long-term economic health.

The proposed reforms span increased budget allocations for health and education, reduced subsidies, tax base expansion, exchange rate adjustments, privatizations, trade liberalization, agricultural investments, and governance changes to reduce inefficiency and corruption.

Given fiscal and capacity realities, the speakers outlined sequenced priorities like macroeconomic stabilization, spending cuts, revenue increases, business climate reform, gradual trade changes, and expanded cash transfers for the poor.

The policy notes given at the event are the culmination of months of outreach by the World Bank’s “Reforms for a Brighter Future” initiative aimed at informing election-centered policy dialogue on Pakistan’s economic direction.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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